The actress was pronounced 'brain dead' on Aug. 12 and 'peacefully' taken off life support two days later.
Los Angeles City firefighters didn't spot Anne Heche inside her scorched Mini Cooper until 24 minutes after they arrived at the scene, and it took at least another 20 minutes before firefighters could extract her from the vehicle.
The harrowing details have come to light after NBC4 Los Angeles obtained the Los Angeles Fire Department's records and time-stamped recordings of radio communications, which also showed there was initial confusion as to whether there was more than one patient after Heche plowed her car into the 738-square-foot, two-story home in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles.
According to the news station, "heavy fire and smoke conditions" made it impossible to determine whether someone was trapped inside the vehicle. What's more, fire officials say determining whether someone was trapped in the vehicle made it more difficult by the fact that Heche was not even in the driver's seat.
The recordings show that firefighters arrived at the scene at 11:01 a.m., and dispatchers had informed firefighters, within seconds upon arrival, that a person was trapped in the car.
Once inside the home, firefighters treated a woman in the home, who turned out to be the tenant, and not Heche. At 11:18 a.m., one of the firefighters working on the fire radioed that no one else was inside the home.
"We do have no patients at this time," the firefighter can be heard saying.
But, just four minutes later at 11:22 a.m. and after overlapping messages on the radio, an incident commander asked for confirmation.
"Let me clear this up, so -- you do have a patient in the car?" the commander can be heard asking over the radio.
Three minutes later, at 11:25 a.m., a firefighter who appeared to be speaking through an oxygen mask radioed that he found the driver.
"We have identified one patient, inaccessible at this time, she's pushed up against the floorboard!" he said.
LAFD Deputy Chief Richard Fields told NBC4 that "where the person was in the vehicle was not in the driver's seat, but on the floorboard of the passenger seat."
Heche would remain trapped in the car for at least another 20 minutes, until LAFD officials could get heavy equipment in place to pull the vehicle out of the house still ablaze, rescue Heche and rush her to an area hospital. According to the recordings, Heche was finally pulled out of the charred rubble at around 11:49 a.m.
"We have one patient in the auto, being assessed, about to be loaded up on the gurney for transport," a firefighter can be heard on the radio.
It would later be determined that Heche suffered severe burns and a severe anoxic brain injury, resulting in a coma. She died as a result of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office confirmed to ET.
The 911 audio from the aftermath of the crash revealed a terrifying scene where neighbors frantically tried to get authorities to come as quickly as possible and stop the flames from spreading.
The person who called 911 told the dispatcher that Heche's car went through the house "very fast." At the beginning of the call, it's not immediately clear if the caller knew Heche was in the vehicle at the time of the crash. But, as more neighbors moved into the wreckage to help, the severity of the situation became clear.
Fields told NBC4 that even if firefighters had spotted Heche immediately upon arrival, it is unlikely firefighters would have responded any differently. According to an after-action presentation prepared for LAFD staff, and obtained by NBC4, it's noted that the fire raged so out of control that it took firefighters 30 minutes just to get to the point where a rescue attempt could be made.
"I would imagine, just based on some of the very experienced officers that were initiating the firefight, that they made the best effort they could to try to identify that someone was in the vehicle," Fields said. "Our firefighters were doing everything."